Recently I decided it was time for a computer upgrade, largely because I’m doing some Windows development and my 3 year old iMac, although still quite good, doesn’t quite have the 3D graphics chops to support the sort of work I’m doing. So I considered getting a windows box… for about 3 seconds, before caving and buying the latest & greatest 27″ iMac instead.
It’s rather schmick. Skinny, fast, quiet and yet it runs surprisingly cool. How they managed to properly ventilate this thing when it’s practically a slab of aluminium I do not know. For now I’m running it mostly in Windows/Bootcamp, with what appears to be full driver support for the NVidia GTX-680MX chipset, and doing all Mac related stuff on my older machine (to the right, see it’s like an inch thicker). Ultimately I’ll probably sell the old one as I don’t really need 2 machines, but for now it’s handy.
I also got a new desk to accomodate, since my old one was small and also remarkably weak; beginning to slump with the two machines sitting on it. Because it was a bit of a rush decision I grabbed the first reasonably sturdy (+cheap) one I could find, with a solid MDF top coated in white polyurethane (the only finish available). Apart from strength, the other appeal of this desk is that it’s actually a folding table, with no assembly required.
If you’re thinking about getting such a desk (or for that matter a glass one) consider first the issue of how well your mouse will work on such a glossy surface. I now have two Apple “magic” mice, seemingly identical (both model A1296), and yet only one can track accurately on this surface– the other doesn’t register movement at all. A Logitech optical mouse also totally failed to track. Basically you should make sure your mouse works when used on a whiteboard before choosing such a desk.
BTW, one of the improvements touted for the new iMacs is a less reflective screen, and I’m pleased to note that the difference is non-trivial (in this photo new iMac is on the right).
A recent flare-up of my ulcerative colitis has refused to subside, and so I’ve decided to try something I only recently ruled out. Studies have shown that nicotine tends to reduce symptoms and aid in the remission of the disease, and so after much consideration I’ve decided that rather than upping my dosage of my usual medication (azathioprine) I’m going to try augmenting my treatment with nicotine patches. As an ex-smoker this is tricky since it means reintroducing a drug into my system that I’ve been trying for years to reduce my dependency on, but at this point I think the potential benefits may be worth it.
Both UC and azathioprine have the common side-effect of fatigue– which may go some way towards explaining why I’ve been feeling so crushingly tired so much of the time. Sleep is my favorite pastime right now. And so the idea of upping the dose doesn’t really appeal, even if it weren’t for the other risk factors that azathioprine brings (like massively increased risk of UV induced skin cancer which is something you don’t want when you live in Australia).
As I am of the large percentage of UC sufferers who developed the condition after I first quit smoking, it seems like a good bet that there may be some benefit to getting nicotine back into my system. Much as I’d like to simply take up the old habit once again, a more sensible (if less satisfying) option is to administer the drug via transdermal patches. I’m starting on 10.5mg per day and plan to maintain this for 2 weeks before reviewing progress.
My experience so far (24 hours after commencement):
- Some initial light headedness and nausea. To be expected, and nothing too bothersome.
- Enhanced alertness. This was my other reason for choosing this path. I am hoping the nicotine will help counteract my general fatigue, as my work requires some ability to concentrate.
- Really really vivid dreams, bordering on lucid, which is incredibly rare for me. When I woke this morning it was after noting that I was stuck in a dream (observing that writing on signs would change every time I looked away) and so I simply walked away from the situation I was in. There was a disconcerting Vanilla Sky moment where it looked like I might have to jump off a rooftop to end the dream, but fortunately I managed to wake before this was necessary. I was quite relieved to find that I was in fact still safe in bed and not teetering on top of a bookcase.
Like a lot of people (I imagine) I currently have two gmail accounts, one personal, and one for work (through Google Apps). But much to my extreme frustration there seems to be no way of merging them into a combined view so I don’t have to jump between browser tabs. The closest I came was to have my personal gmail check my work gmail as though it were just another external POP account. Which really is a terrible solution, as a) it only checks POP accounts once an hour, b) it means I am actually ending up with the same messages in 2 places, and c) if I reply to a work email from my personal account the recipient gets mail headers along the lines of “sent by firstname.lastname@example.org on behalf of email@example.com”. YUCK.
And so I find myself using Apple’s desktop Mail.app for the first time. And I really don’t like it (in fact I don’t even like the idea of desktop mail clients anymore). But at least it lets me combine multiple accounts (using IMAP instead of POP!) and view them in a unified inbox. Unfortunately, even though it’s IMAP based it’s still too thick to offer me the same convenience for my Sent folder, instead only showing items that have been sent via the desktop mail client itself.
As well as in Gmail, support for multiple account view would be great in Google’s calendar, contacts etc. It’s dumb that pretty much ALL my data is stored by Google and yet only third party clients can let me view these accounts simultaneously.
UPDATE: I tried setting up Outlook 2011 for Mac to see if it was better than Apple Mail. I got as far as getting frustrated with an account that looked like it was working and yet downloading zero messages, as well as the realization that built-in support for CalDAV and CardDAV seems to be missing (or incredibly well hidden), so screw that.
A blessing and a curse.
It’s been a few years now since I worked in an office environment, and although there’s a lot I don’t miss, there are some things I do. Daily social interaction with workmates is a handy way to make sure you aren’t going a bit mad. When you get stuck on a problem and swear loudly enough someone will eventually pop their head in and give you a chance to explain it to them, at which point you might suddenly figure out what’s wrong, or at the very least garner some sympathy.
When you work from home, you get total control of your workspace, and that’s great. Except that you might start getting obsessive over unimportant details like where to put your desk, how many whiteboards is too many, how best to arrange your network hardware*, whether you work better with music and which music to choose, ambient light levels, optimal selection of pens, etc.
Also you get to set your own hours. Awesome. Although what this really means for me is that I work in fits and starts at weird hours, often in the wee small hours, because I am not good at delaying the gratification of being able to use the daylight hours for something other than staring at a computer screen.
Overall I still like it a lot more than not, but I just wish I could be a little more disciplined with my schedule.
* Answer: Pile it onto a high shelf and just try to ignore it.
A nice reality-check for anyone tempted to excuse sexual harassment or assault on the grounds of situational complexity, cultural misunderstandings, natural urges, difficulty in parsing non-verbal cues, victim’s choice of clothing etc… What if a person applied the same lack of judgement and consideration in other areas of everyday life? The following are excerpted from: If Consent Was Really That Hard, Whiny Dudes Would Fail At Every Aspect of Life:
- First of all, they’d all be in jail anyway for repeated trespassing. This would happen after they tried to get jobs by walking into workplaces uninvited, putting themselves at a workstation, and demanding a paycheck. They would, of course, be told that they’re trespassing by the bewildered people in the workplace, and they’d reply, “But I work here. I have this job.” And when they were told that no, they have to apply first and be hired, they’d throw a temper tantrum and refuse to leave, saying, “You advertised a job opening! The job is clearly mine!” until the cops came by and cuffed them and threw them back into jail. Rinse, repeat, because making sure you’re hired before you get a job is HAAAAARRRRD.
- Driving a car, of course, would be completely unmanageable. They’d always be getting into car wrecks every time they drove more than a block, because right-of-way would make no sense to them. Imagine trying to merge into traffic if you can’t handle the process of “reading” another car’s “body language” to see if it’s letting you into traffic. Because this doesn’t happen to them, we can safely assume they can read car body language, so their claims to be unable to read women’s body language are simply put, lies.
- Not to mention the routine damage to their bodies from constant animal attacks, because they don’t understand how to tell a friendly animal who wants petting from a snarling animal that will bite. But, in reality, they can understand animal body language, even as they claim to be unable to understand their fellow human beings who they can converse with in a spoken language.
A pic from the front of my house at sunset as it was starting to rain again. Mmmmmm…. atmos.
If you were a kid watching TV in Australia around 1980, you probably remember this psychedelic animated music video they used to play all the time on the ABC (public TV station).
Some people were more traumatized by it than I was.
How worried all these poor rich jerks look! Obama’s gonna slightly increase their crushing tax burdens! Original article here.
A quick reality check, courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau:
- Fewer than 2.4% of all U.S. households have a combined income of more than $250,000.
- Fewer than 1% of single moms earn more than $200,000.
- Fewer than 2.5% of retirement aged households earn more than $180,000.
- Fewer than 0.5% of single women (living alone) earn more than $200,000 (which is both interesting and sad).
- $650,000 is so high and represents such a tiny percentage of the population that they don’t even put it in their spreadsheets, usually topping out around the 200-250 range.
Ever since iOS 6 came out I’ve been very envious of people with newer iPhones than mine; mostly for that built-in panorama mode, as all the panorama apps I’d tried on the iPhone 4 were frankly garbage. But finally my 24 month contract ended recently so I was able to renew with a new plan + iPhone 5 (32GB).
Here’s two shots from right beside my secret low-tide paddle pool. Click to embiggen…
I can’t believe how smoothly the exposure variation is handled, like in this case even when the sun is in the shot.
Other things I note (compared to the iPhone 4):
- Significantly faster/more responsive.
- Headphone jack on the bottom!
- Extra vertical pixels seems to make the screen feel bigger all round.
- Gets slightly warmer with use?
- Blacker screen (well the black parts are anyway, which is good)
- Lighter and flatter (but not too much of either). And I actually like the fact that it’s physically taller.
- So minimal in form. I’m really liking the physical ‘fit and finish’ of the new iPhone design, although the fact that the volume buttons have the slightest freedom to rattle stops me giving it an A+ in that department. I’d really like the future iPhone to be indistinguishable from a thin black slab of cut glass (and just as waterproof would be nice).
- Front-facing camera is 4 times the resolution, for usable selfies (iPhone 4 is 640 x 480, otherwise known as potato resolution).
- Makes me wish the lightning connector had been introduced 5 years ago with the first iPhone. It is so much nicer and I love the way it snaps into place. Annoyed at the crazy $35 price for the adapter needed to use old 3rd party devices.
- Nano-SIM. Seriously? SERIOUSLY!?! it’s like 1mm smaller than micro-SIM which Apple only just introduced with iPhone 4, and seems to be designed just to annoy phone retailers and complicate technology sharing.
- Home button really feels like the weakest physical link, I’m going to try not to mash it too much (the home button on my 4 is half dead).
- With the metal back I might have bought the white one, were there any display models to play with. Just for a change.
- Same old monophonic speaker cheat! It looks like stereo speakers at the bottom but the left one is actually for the microphone (or just dummy holes).
- Anodized aluminum is too delicate! I already have tiny scuffs and scratches from putting the thing in my pocket with keys. Again, I’m really looking forward to when an iPhone is a solid piece of glass– ie way less prone to scratches than coated metal. I never use phone covers so it looks like I’m just gonna end up scratching the hell out of this thing.
- Room for another row of grid aligned brightly colored square icons which I am getting royally sick of scanning through.
On the subject of icons, where the hell is the “auto-organize by category” option so I don’t have to think about which page I want to put my house hunting searching app on? I want other people to spend a lot of time carefully deciding how these innumerable technicolor gumdrops should be arranged so I don’t have to!
Well it looks like cutting back on alcohol and (to a lesser degree) sugar and carbs has had some positive effects.
My weight is around 97kg right now, about 6 kg less than it was in July, and my blood pressure is now close to normal levels at roughly 125/85.
Blood tests show my cholesterol and triglycerides are back down to where they were in 2010. Still too high, but heading in the right direction. Liver function is also improved.
The wild card in all this is a fairly recent recurrence of my long dormant ulcerative colitis, which I’m not at all happy about (although to be honest it’s probably helping me keep the weight off right now). The medication I took to deal with it last time seems far less effective this time around, so I’ve no idea how long I will have to put up with it.
Weight: 97.2 kg
Waist: 106 cm
Blood Pressure: 125/85
Here’s what my internet connectivity looks like when my machine is idle. Not particularly great but I get by:
Here’s what it looks like when Dropbox is uploading a large media file in the background:
And here’s what it looks like when Google Drive is doing the same:
That horrible 509 millisecond ping time (and it can easily get as bad as 1500 ms) ruins pretty much any attempt to use the internet on my entire network. Google employs tens (hundreds?) of thousands of talented engineers and yet the company deliver half-baked shit like this that feels like an intern developed it and didn’t even bother to test properly. Are the top developers just being paid just to use Google+ all day?
I’m really sick of multi billion dollar companies rolling out software that looks like it was knocked up in someone’s spare time.
Speaking of which, APPLE. Apple, for somehow finding a way to make iTunes worse, for never making iPhoto better than crap, for taking the dumbest elements of iOS and shoehorning them into OS X, for redesigning the AppleTV interface to be even less useful and sticking me with non-removable MLB and NBA tiles taking up valuable space on the homescreen when I live in Australia and hate TV sport anyway. For failing to come up with a level of organization for apps in iOS better the the useless homescreen folders. For making Airplay work with iTunes but leaving it out of Quicktime. What exactly are all your genius developers working on?
For the past few months Emma and I have been looking for a house to buy, and so far we’ve seen two places we really liked. The first one was like this old country house forgotten in the middle of a regular Sydney suburb, but it was snapped up well before we could get our finances in order. The second we really thought was going to be ours; we seemed to be the only parties genuinely interested and we made a formal offer, but for some reason the owner ended up making other arrangements excluding us and the agent (we never had the chance to make a second offer). We’re still sore about that, as we had come to assume it would be ours.
So now we start the new year frustrated that we have to start looking again, and pessimistic about finding a place we like as much anytime soon. I had even been digging into NSW crime stats to work out the relative niceness of the suburb (Wiley Park) which, although it isn’t generally considered a ‘nice’ suburb, is actually within a region (Canterbury) that is markedly below average on a lot of key crime stats.
We continue scouring the region for other options, mainly because it’s one of the only decent areas we can really afford to look at. The other area we’re looking at is nearby Auburn, but I’m not liking the stats quite as much for that region. Where the Canterbury region factors fairly low on most of these stats, Auburn tends to be on the high side (although some numbers are trending strongly down over the last 5 years). The current region I live in is technically Wollongong (which fares very badly, although I live very much on the outskirts) and I grew up in the Tweed region.
All data below is extracted from tables provided by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. Numbers represent incidents per 100,000 population.
Break & Enter
Harassment & Threats